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COVID-19 Daily Briefing - Tuesday, 5/12

Today’s Recap:

  • COVID-19 testing and Coronavirus antibody testing are both now more widely available (and yes, we can help you arrange for one or both).  But COVID testing is just a snapshot in time and we still don’t have a clue what antibody results really mean.  So we’re holding off on making any testing recommendations.
  • The CDC reported there are now 1.3 million confirmed or probable COVID cases in the US and WHO reporting more than 4.2 million worldwide.  
  • The CDC confirmed that if EPA-approved sanitizers are not available, there are alternatives that include bleach or 70% alcohol, but do NOT include UV light, LED blue light or ultrasonic cleaners.  There is no data yet supporting their efficacy. 


Best Questions of the Day:

Masks, masks and more masks questions...

Does an employee require a reasonable accommodation under the ADA if they’re unable to wear a mask?

Yes. The CDC says that we cannot require someone to wear a mask if there’s a medical reason they are unable to do so, and that businesses should not request a doctor’s note, either. 

According to the EEOC, an employee may request “reasonable accommodation under the ADA (e.g., non-latex gloves, modified face masks for interpreters or others who communicate with an employee who uses lip reading [...]) or a religious accommodation under Title VII (such as modified equipment due to religious garb).” The employer should “discuss the request and provide the modification or an alternative if feasible and not an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business under the ADA or Title VII.”

Can an employee wear a face shield if they’re unable to wear a mask?

Yes, but only if they have a legitimate medical reason that they are unable to wear a mask. Face shields don’t do as good a job at preventing airborne droplets from escaping someone’s nose and mouth, so they’re not preferable to a face mask. But if an employee has a valid medical reason (though we can’t ask for doctors’ notes) for not wearing a mask, a face shield is better than no face covering at all. 

Employees who wear glasses are having difficulty with fogging glasses when they wear masks.  Any suggestions?

For those who wear glasses, we highly recommend face masks with some sort of wire nosepiece. When worn properly and tightly fitting across the bridge of the nose, a mask with a wire nosepiece should not fog up glasses. 

Also, washing your glasses with soap and water creates a protective film that may help prevent fogging. 

If an employee reported symptoms  (and was excluded) weeks ago but was never tested and now (many weeks later), family members have tested positive for COVID-19, does the employee need to be excluded again?

Yes, unfortunately in most cases that person needs to be excluded again. The only exception might be if a person had full, classic COVID-19 symptoms and was told by a doctor that they were a presumed positive, but wasn’t able to get tested. In most cases, employees haven’t seen a doctor and don’t have all of the classic symptoms, so we have to assume that they might have had the flu, a cold, some other illness, etc. And the timeline of their family members becoming sick many weeks later doesn’t track with what we know about how easily this virus spreads - so we want to exercise caution and keep the employee out another 14 days. 

Should we be giving customers or visitors  gloves?

Well…. No. Here’s some new guidance from the CDC and it suggests we shouldn’t be wearing them while grocery shopping or doing other errands.  Handwashing remains best practice.

Best Read of the Day:

This is a great piece about what we know and can expect, which, in short, is a “very, very messy” ending. 

How Pandemics End

Best Laugh of the Day:


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